Come April 2024, there are a number of changes to employment law we need to consider.
Firstly, the additional protection given to a pregnant employee at risk of redundancy and the second the changes to the flexible working procedure.
Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023
This legislation introduces significant changes to redundancy protections, as provides protection for pregnant employees, from the time pregnancy is notified, to beyond the return from maternity leave.
At present employees who are on maternity leave have special protection against redundancy. Employers are legally required to offer suitable alternative employment to these employees, over other employees, if their original job is at risk of redundancy.
From 6th April 2024 the Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023, extends this protection to;
Pregnant employees from the time they inform their employer of their pregnancy, until 18 months after the child’s date of birth.
The additional protection also extends to those taking Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave.
These changes mean that new and expectant parents will enjoy an extended period of redundancy protection. Employers will need to be mindful of these protections when considering restructuring or redundancy scenarios, as failing to offer a protected employee a suitable alternative vacancy could result in claims for automatic unfair dismissal.
The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023
This legislation amends the current flexible working procedure.
- Employees need 26 weeks of continuous service to be eligible to request flexible working.
- Employees are allowed to make one flexible working request per year.
- Employees have to explain the effects of their flexible working request on their employer.
- Employers are required to consider the flexible working request.
- Employers have three months to respond to flexible working requests.
The new Act will introduce the following changes;
- The right to request flexible working from day one of employment.
- Employees can make two requests for flexible working in any 12-month period.
- The requirement for employees to explain the impact of their request on the employer has been removed.
- Employers are now required to consult with the employee before rejecting their request.
- The period within which employers must respond to requests has been reduced to two months.
The right to request flexible working from day one of employment starts from 6th April 2024, while no date has been set for the other changes, it is expected that they will also come into force on 6th April 2024.
Employers need to be mindful of these changes and may need to update their policies and procedures accordingly.
A revised ACAS Statutory Code of Practice for flexible working is expected soon.